*This is a collaborative post
I have been a huge bookworm my whole life and would quite happily live in a library if I could. Unfortunately I don’t get the time to read as much as I would like these days, but I do always make time to read to my children. From around 6 months old both my children have been having stories as part of their bedtime routine and we visit the library every three weeks. My 2 yr old takes books with her everywhere and has to grab one to take downstairs every morning (even when she has 20 downstairs already!). My son is 7 and a fantastic reader. We have read a lot of the Roald Dahl books together and for a while he was loving the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. Unfortunately, since his school upped the number of books they are expected to read each week (and they’re all pretty long too) he has somewhat fallen out of love with reading and rarely wants to read at bedtime. He does however love coming to listen to his sister’s bedtime stories and will often sit and read to her (melts my heart every time).
As much as I love to read to my kids myself, there are countless times throughout the day when that just isn’t possible (cooking tea, washing up, throat too sore from reading 20 in a row already). So, when Ebookadabra asked if I would like to review their children’s reading app I jumped at the chance. It seemed a great way to feed my daughter’s book addiction when I wasn’t available and I thought the iPad element might help bring back my son’s love of reading.
If you’ve never heard of it, Ebookadabra is an app for iPhone or iPad aimed at children aged 3-7, giving them access to 100s of books right at their fingertips. And not just any old books, we’re taking Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury, you know – the big guns.
When you first get the app you set up an account for the whole family with a parent profile and one for each child (up to 4 children). They can each choose their own avatar and theme and can even draw their own name, or just a picture if they can’t write yet (or you could draw it for them). Within their profile they can then search through the different categories (at present these are: animals, adventures, fairy princess, activities, classic tales, aliens & monsters, bedtime, films & TV, school, dinosaurs, discover, witches & wizards, family & friends, vehicles, and songs & rhyme) or use the search function to find a book they like the look of. They can then download this book onto their own bookshelf (stores up to 15 at a time).
With each book that they read all the way through they receive a sticker and unlock new games, which again can be accessed from within their profile. Although the games are educational, the aim of the app is to get kids reading so each book also gives them points and every time they play games these points get used up. The only way to get more game time is to read more books, so you never have to worry about them only playing games.
Obviously children at the younger end of the age range won’t be able to read the books themselves but a lot of them have an audio option so that they can listen to it being read to them. For the books that don’t have an audio there is also an option for the parent (through the parent profile) to record themselves reading the story and then send it through the app to one or all of their children.
We have been using the app for just over a week now and I have to say it has been a big hit in our house. At only 2, my daughter is a little under the specified age range but she has still managed to find her way round most of the app and is constantly filling up her bookshelf (which I then delete so she can fill it up with more). A lot of the games are a little too hard for her just now but I’m confident that by the time she’s 3 (August) she’ll have mastered a lot of them (there are different levels of difficulty for the older kids). Although to be honest, it’s the books she’s interested in anyway.
At the top end of the age range (he’s 8 in April), I did wonder if my son would get much out of it but he actually really likes it. Surprisingly though, the feature he likes the most is being able to record himself reading the books and sending them to his sister. This can only be done from the parent profile so I have to log him in to mine to do this but I don’t think that’s a problem as there is nothing in there that he shouldn’t be seeing anyway.
From the parent profile, as well as being able to record the books, you can see how much time each child spends reading vs time spent playing games, as well as the number of books they have read and stickers they’ve earned. You can also delete books from each child’s bookshelf to make more room if needed.
At first I did wonder if 15 books was enough, especially at the rate my daughter goes through them, but actually it’s quite a good limit. Because the books are downloaded onto your device so that they can be read anywhere regardless of whether you have a signal, this means they use up your storage space. Left to her own devices my daughter would happily download every single book and clog the iPad completely; the 15 book limit prevents that happening.
At the time of publishing, Ebookadabra is available through the app store at 99p per month for as long as you keep it (usually £5.99 per month), and you can cancel at any time. You can also get a free trial to see if the app is for you, so you can’t really go wrong.
The app will never replace physical books, nor is that it’s intention, but it is a great resource for when you either can’t sit down and read to your child yourself or when you are travelling and don’t want to carry a suitcase full of books with you. You can also add it to more than one device so I will be using it on my phone for those times when I need a quick distraction (waiting room at the doctors/dentist, stuck in traffic, hairdressers etc).
The Ebookadabra app is still being developed (hence the low initial price), but we didn’t experience any problems at all. There are new books and categories being added all the time too so we don’t need to worry about running out of books to read.
Overall we were really impressed. I don’t know how much use my son will get out of it moving forward (given his age), but I can see my daughter using it for years to come.
Do you have a good reading routine with your kids? How would you feel about them reading ebooks?